Tory call to end '24-hour licensing'
'more robust rules'
If you thought the pub trade and brewing industry couldn't face any worse threats under the present Labour government -- here come the Tories!
Tory home affairs spokesman Chris Grayling said in a speech on 24 February that his party, if returned to power, would be "more robust about licensing rules".
"There is now a strong case to end Labour 24-hour drinking regime," he added. "It has not created a continental cafe culture -- it has just made things worse in many town and city centres."
Mr Grayling did not say precisely how the Tories would change the current legislation. This is understandable, as Mr Grayling does not understand the law he wishes to change.
There is no such thing as "24-hour licensing". Owners of licensed premises can now choose flexible hours within a 24-hour cycle. This means pubs can choose to stay open longer at weekends to suit the demands of their customers. Apart from airport bars, I don't know of any pubs that open for 24 hours. The only purveyors of alcohol that do open 24 hours are supermarkets.
If Chris Grayling did some research, he would discover that many pubs that extended their hours when the new law came in soon reverted to more restricted hours when their trade did not increase. Most of the pubs listed in the Hertfordshire section of the Good Beer Guide still close at 3pm and open again from 6 to 11pm: I choose Herts because that's where I live, but it is not untypical. No pub owner will stay open during the afternoon or the wee small hours if nobody walks through the doors.
Tony Payne, chief exectuive of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers, put it well when he responded to Mr Grayling: "If he has concerns about 24-hour drinking he should first find out how many pubs has 24-hopur licences. It is very few. Most 24-hour licences are held by supermarkets. If there are problems at premises, there are already powers to deal with them."
The simple fact, which Chris Grayling ignores, is that such problems as binge drinking and city-centre drunkenness have diminished since the law changed. Before the change, when all city-centre pubs had to close at 11pm, there was often mayhem. Chris Grayling ignores the improvements in order to jump on a bandwagon created by the Daily Mail to pillory the pub trade for problems it is not responsible for.
The Tories are coming...be afraid, be very afraid.